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Mitchell hearing begins

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The courtroom antics of one of Utah's most notorious alleged kidnappers continued Tuesday at the start of a three-day hearing to determine if prosecutors can have Brian David Mitchell forcibly medicated.

Mitchell, along with Wanda Barzee, is accused of snatching Elizabeth Smart in June 2002 from her Federal Heights home. Smart was spotted with the couple in March the following year while walking in Sandy.

Past outbursts have prompted the removal of Mitchell from courtroom proceedings, but 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton allowed Mitchell to ramble on unchecked for close to three minutes.

During that time, he stood with his head bowed and eyes closed as he mumbled and conversely shouted his religious rants, including, "Ye shall be smitten and destroyed both root and branch. Ye shall be swept off the face of this earth by a broom of destruction."

At a break in today's proceedings, the first attended by Ed Smart in two years, the father of the kidnap victim said he believes Mitchell to be delusional and "crazy like a fox."

Mitchell has been incarcerated since his arrest and is resisting efforts by the state to be forcibly medicated so he can stand trial in connection with the abduction and sexual assault of the girl.

The self-proclaimed prophet is front and center of the state's second-ever Sell hearing, in which Atherton will be asked to weigh if there is an important government interest at stake, if that interest will be served by forced medication and if it is medically appropriate.

By mid-morning, the only witness to take the stand was Dr. Paul Whitehead, clinical director of the Utah State Hospital and Mitchell's attending physician.

Whitehead said Mitchell has a delusional disorder but there is a 60 to 80 percent that his competency could be restored with medication.

In the two years Mitchell has been hospitalized, Whitehead said he's only had two or three outbursts, in contradiction to his predictable episodes of yelling while making a courtroom appearance.

It's "very puzzling to us," Whitehead said.

Smart later said he didn't intend to return to the hearing.

"I saw what I needed to see."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com